The gap in Sunderland’s fixture list offers the perfect time to make preparations for the summer ahead.
The Black Cats are currently well positioned to challenge for promotion, but being one point outside of the top six with 10 games left means that there’s work still to be done.
Many supporters will have been hoping to sit higher up the table but that just hasn’t looked viable at any point through the season.
Excluding their recent fine run of form, Sunderland have never been able to show the kind of consistency that would make them genuine promotion favourites.
The hope is that next season the club will be looking adapting to life in the Championship, or at the very least, challenging at the top of the third tier.
But who could Sunderland look to sign? We look at two players previously linked that the Black Cats may be best avoided.
Sunderland were linked with a move for the once highly-rated midfielder in January, but missed out to Oxford United.
In hindsight, this might not have been such a bad thing.
Kelly has made just three cameo appearances for Karl Robinson’s side and has not actually featured at all since mid-February.
Based on the lack of impact that he’s made it seems unlikely that Sunderland will be renewing their interest come the summer.
QUIZ: Can you name the player who scored the first Sunderland goal in each of the last 16 seasons?
The striker was widely linked with a move back to the North East after falling out of favour with Cardiff City.
That didn’t materialise and he ended up linking up with Blackpool.
While Madine has played 10 games for the Seasiders, he’s scored just two goals in that time – a record which is hardly worth Sunderland pulling up trees to bring him on board.
There’s plenty of other options around, and ones which would probably prove to be a better fit with Phil Parkinson’s side.